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A bumper crop of hopefuls is scooping up funds for what is expected to be an expensive race to state's top job

COURTESY PHOTO: DREAMSTIME - Oregon gubernatorial candidates have started raising money for what could be expensive campaigns.An old saying is that "money is the mother's milk of politics." If true, Oregon's candidates for governor are using a sippy cup at this point in the 2022 race.

As of Monday, Nov. 1, the Oregon secretary of state reports 23 campaign finance committees have been registered for the 2022 race: 12 Republicans, eight Democrats, one Independent and two "non-affiliated."

Only one candidate — Republican Bud Pierce — has raised more than $700,000. And half of that is from Pierce's contributions to himself. That's a trickle compared to the nearly $40 million raised in 2018 when incumbent Democrat Gov. Kate Brown defeated the Republican nominee, former Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend.

ocbThe 2022 race won't likely be much cheaper. Gov. Kate Brown can't run because of term limits. The open seat has drawn a bumper crop of candidates.

Under Oregon's nearly non-existent campaign finance laws and rules, anyone or anything can give unlimited money. Candidates have up to 30 days to report the contributions during most of the campaign.

The loopholes were on display when ex-New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof recently announced that he was jumping into the race. His campaign said it has raised $105,000.

But you'll have to take Kristof's word for it. The state website on Monday showed no money going in or out as yet. "Nick for Oregon" campaign staff confirmed it would wait the maximum allowable 30 days before reporting contributions.

There's still some names in the rumor mill officially on the sidelines. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, has $163,349 in her campaign committee account. House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby has $163,664.61 in the bank. Both have been the subject of political commentary on who might still get into the race.

The numbers may be stale and squishy and the list of candidates incomplete. But reports as of Nov. 1 shed some light into who is priming the campaign pump and who is running dry. It also shows the outlines of candidate's biggest early contributors.

Campaigns that have raised $200,000 this year or have a similar amount already in the bank:

DEMOCRATS

Tina Kotek: The House speaker announced her long-anticipated bid for governor just before Labor Day. She's raised $276,149 this year and spent $48,112, with $319,155. Janet Byrd, of Portland, a strategist for the non-profit Oregon Consumer Justice, topped the early giving, with a personal contribution of $25,000. Oregon Climate PAC, gave $20,000. The PAC's top bankroller is Eric Lemelson, a Dayton winemaker who inherited a fortune built by 550 patents on everything from telecommunications to toys by his father, Jerome.

Kotek has also tapped into the PAC network of Democratic politicians. The PAC of Bureau of Labor and Industry Commissioner Val Hoyle has given $10,000. Hoyle is running for re-election next year, muting speculation she would jump in the governor's race. Rep. Dan Rayfield, R-Corvallis, gave $10,000, one of several contributions from state lawmakers. Kotek is the first open lesbian to serve as Oregon House speaker. An early contribution to her was $5,000 from California Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, who was the first lesbian to serve as Assembly speaker in California.

Tobias Read: Re-elected treasure last November, Read announced he would run for governor on Sept. 27. If unsuccessful in the primary, Read would still have two years remaining on his term as treasurer. He's raised $389,542 and spent the most of any Democrat, with $182,882 in expenditures. He started the year with $68,416 and had $275,793 in cash on Nov. 1.

Read's largest contributions this year have been $25,000 from the Oregon Realtors PAC, and $25,000 from Neal Dempsey, managing partner of Bay Partners in San Francisco. Other contributions include $25,000 from William Bloomfield, Jr., of Park City, Utah, $15,000 from attorney Daniel Hume of New York, $10,000 from Bend brewery owner Roger Worthington, and $10,000 each from Hampton Lumber in Portland, Marquis Companies CEO Phil Fogg of Milwaukie, Long Rock Timber Management of Roseburg, Saxena White Public Accountants of Boca Raton, Florida, and Zapproved CEO Monica Enand of Portland.

UNAFFILIATED

Betsy Johnson: The daughter of a lumber businessman and Republican state representative and mayor of Redmond, Johnson followed in her father's footsteps, but as a Democrat. A moderate from Scappoose, she has served in the House and Senate, standing out as a moderate who split with fellow Democrats on some gun control bills, fossil fuels limits, forestry sales and tax legislation. As co-chair of the powerful budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee, Johnson was already a magnet for contributions. She's rolling $524,403 raised prior to this year into her 2022 campaign. She's raised $65,850 this year and spent $67,870.

Johnson's largest recent contribution is $6,000 from the Oregon Beverage PAC. She's received $5,000 from several contributors, including the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, a health industry PAC. Portland investor John L. Blackwell, former chair of the Oregon Board of Forestry, gave $5,000.

REPUBLICANS

Bud Pierce: The Salem oncologist was the 2016 GOP candidate for governor in a special election won by Democrat Kate Brown. Pierce has raised more than any candidate, $743,285. The total includes $345,814 he has contributed to his own campaign. He's also the campaign's most prodigious spender so far, with $556,830 in expenditures. He started the month with $213,230 in the bank.

Besides his own money, some of the largest contributions to Pierce's campaign are $100,000 from Mountain West Investment Corp. of Salem, $26,559 from Richard Withnell of Keizer, and $25,000 from Frank Timber Resources of Mill City.

Stan Pulliam: The mayor of Sandy, near Portland, has been a favorite of GOP activists, winning an online poll taken by Oregon Catalyst, a popular conservative website. He's raised $506,754 while spending $286,469 and had $220,760 in the bank on Monday.

Dean Pollman, a real estate developer from Tualatin, has been Pulliam's biggest backer, giving $20,000 as an individual and $25,000 through the Dean Pollman Family Revocable Living Trust. Pulliam also received $25,000 from Wilson Construction in Canby and $10,000 from Hayden Homes developer Hayden Watson of Bend.

Bridget Barton: The Lake Oswego political consultant and publisher has raised $354,251 and spent $94,359, with $263,591 in the bank.

Her biggest contribution was $150,000 from Oregon Pathfinder, a non-profit in Lake Oswego, that lists her as its secretary. She's received $25,000 from the Merlo Corporation, a Portland advertising company. The report includes $25,000 each from Robert, Tyler and Kyle Freres, of the Lyons-based Freres Lumber. She's received $25,000 from plywood supplier Murphy Co. of Eugene.

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